Looking for a family-friendly resort that has it all? The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee has numerous amenities and friendly Southern service at reasonable prices that make it an excellent pick for family travelers. Get the details to make the most of your stay at the Gaylord Opryland on your next Music City visit.
Bigger isn’t always better. Except when it is. And it doesn’t get much bigger or better than the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. My family of four (including my 6 year-old-daughter and almost 2- year-old son) stayed at the Gaylord Opryland for two nights this summer. We were in awe of everything the resort had to offer, even though we tend to prefer smaller and cozier accommodations in many of our travels.
With 2711 rooms and an additional 171 suites, 17 dining establishments, numerous stores, and a huge attached convention center, the Gaylord Opryland Resort is truly enormous.
We felt we could have stayed a month and not seen it all. While the size of such a large resort necessarily means a few long walks for guests, having access to so many amenities is well worth the extra exercise. With so much on-site, guests can customize their experiences, making the resort an equally good fit for a wide variety of travelers, including families, couples, or singles.
The Gaylord Opryland is probably most comparable to the mega-resorts of Las Vegas, with a distinctly Southern Music City twist. Unlike Las Vegas, it gives off a much more family-friendly vibe while still having plenty of nightlife if that floats your boat. Like Las Vegas, prices vary wildly depending on the season and convention schedules, but there are often tempting deals to be found for a resort with such amenities. As with most resorts, of course, be aware of the extra fees (including a resort fee of $18 a night and self-parking for $23 or valet parking for $30).
The hotel was undergoing a refurbishment in several sections during my family’s visit in late summer 2015, but we were not disturbed by dust or noise at all.
What Works for Families at Gaylord Opryland:
- Three pools, including a shallow kids pool.
- Complimentary WiFi.
- Refrigerators in every room (a must for my family, as we have a toddler who needs his milk!)
- Fun and informative boat tour through the Delta wing of the resort: a big hit with our kids.
- Proximity to the Nashville Airport (BNA) – 15 minutes!
- Proximity to the Opry Mills Mall and Grand Ole Opry.
What Doesn’t Work for Families at Gaylord Opryland:
- Long waits up to 15 minutes for valet service to bring cars around. (Insider tip: be sure to call down for your car about 10 minutes before you leave your room and you will save time).
- As a multi-level resort that relies on lots of escalators, it can be a bit difficult to navigate with a stroller (or a wheelchair for guests with disabilities staying at the Gaylord Opryland).
The Gaylord Opryland Resort has a storied history dating back to 1977. It was built in several stages, which shapes how the resort works and looks today. The result is that the hotel has multiple interconnected wings (Magnolia, Garden Conservatory, Cascades, and Delta), each with its own center atrium. Each hotel area has a theme but the common unifying feature throughout is water and light. Fountains and waterfalls are everywhere. Combined with the natural light flooding in through the glass domes over each atrium, the result is quite peaceful for a mega-resort.
Strolling around and touring the resort is an activity unto itself. Kids will enjoy throwing coins in the fountains, peaking behind the large waterfall in the Cascades section of the resort, and walking along the hotel’s elevated walkways that overlook the beautiful scenery.
While there are some Nashville attractions within walking distance of the resort (particularly the Grand Ole Opry and Opry Mills Mall), you’ll need a car to get to downtown Nashville to see the sights there. The drive takes about 15 minutes or you can sign up for the resort’s shuttle ($20 for a 1 day pass or $30 for a 3 day pass).
Gaylord Opryland Resort Rooms
With 8 different room and suite options at the hotel, there are choices at various price points, sizes, and amenity levels. We stayed in a suite facing the atrium of the Garden Conservatory, which was a regular room connected to a huge living room area. The regular room included a refrigerator which is always a bonus for families with young kids needing to store snacks or milk.
One feature we loved for our 23-month-old was that the Gaylord Opryland offered real cribs instead of a Pack N Play, a rare amenity in our family’s travels. While my toddler will sleep in either quite well, having the real deal is a nice touch, particularly for families with a child who fights the Pack N Play.
While the bathrooms were a bit tiny for such a high-end resort, the layout worked well for families. Our room had one sink in the bathroom, along with the toilet and shower. It then had another sink and vanity area outside the bathroom open to the rest of the room. Having a full bathroom behind a closed door (so as not to disturb sleeping kids!) is a great feature, but having that extra sink meant that two adults could easily get ready at one time.
One word of warning about rooms: the atrium facing rooms are truly lovely, but you will quickly find that neighbors across the atrium can see directly into your room. Don’t forget to close your shades when getting ready!
Gaylord Opryland Resort Amenities
Where do I start? Virtually every amenity that you could possibly want in a hotel can be found at the Gaylord Opryland: a high-end spa, large fitness center, business and convention services, pools galore, golf, concierge services, and more.
Ones that stood out to me as particularly important for families included the pools. There are no crazy waterslides to be found here, but the pools are big and beautiful and in keeping with an elegant Southern resort. There is a large indoor pool that works well during the winter or on a rainy day, along with two outdoor pools and whirlpool.
Also sure to be a hit with kids is a ride aboard the Delta Riverboat Company. For a small fee ($9.50 for adults and $7 for kids ages 4-11 as of summer 2015), you can cruise the river that runs through the largest section of the resort to get a closer look at the waterfalls and fountains. Our guide was able to tell us the history of the resort and point out some of the features we would otherwise have missed.
The only amenity missing from the Gaylord Opryland for family travelers is a kids club of some sort. Chances are, however, you’ll be exploring the city with your kids during most of your visit.
Gaylord Opryland Resort Dining
With 17 restaurants and lounges, you can truly take your pick when it comes to dining. The hotel offers everything: a high-end steakhouse, a Mexican cantina, an Irish pub, and quick bites like pizza and frozen yogurt. In addition, a resort of this size naturally has 24-hour room service.
We ate at Cascades American Cafe for Sunday breakfast during our visit, and it was clearly the place to be for a sit-down breakfast. The food was somewhat inconsistent but the service was exceptionally friendly complete with genuine Southern charm. The view of the waterfalls while we dined made the meal. We were also relieved to see that Cascades was well-equipped for kids, offering our little ones coloring sheets, a kid’s menu, and plastic kids cups with covered tops. Parents know not to underestimate these little details when trying to get through a meal with an active toddler!
We didn’t have a chance to try other restaurants during our short stay, but fellow TravelingMom Teronya Holmes (a Tennessee native and frequent Gaylord Opryland guest) also recommends Paisano’s Pizzaria & Vino, a cafeteria-style bistro located on Delta Island, if you need a quick bite: “Everything was fresh and delicious, and there was plenty to go around. You do stand in line to order your food, and you are left to find a table in the Delta area on your own. The seating area includes tables on the terrace overlooking the Delta river boats, which you can enjoy riding through the beautiful conservatory after you eat!”